Cody Bellinger has become a favorite for Dodgers fans

“Bellinger” is one of the names most frequently seen on the back of fan apparel in Dodger Stadium recently as Cody Bellinger has quickly become a fan favorite.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

Cody Bellinger turned 22 last week. He was in the minor leagues three months ago.

Yet, on a team with some of baseball’s brightest stars, the rookie slugger rapidly has become one of the Dodgers’ most popular players. Take a walk around a Dodger Stadium concourse, and you’ll see plenty of fans dressed in Bellinger shirts.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Bellinger said.

The Dodgers declined to provide sales rankings for player shirts sold at the stadium, but store employees said the most popular shirts in recent weeks are the ones with the names of Bellinger, Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager.

Bellinger said he did not collect or wear player shirts as a kid. But, he said, he was thrilled when his parents gave him a Manny Ramirez jersey for Christmas one year.

“I just liked how he hit. It was sick,” Bellinger said. “I liked his dreads.”

Could Bellinger foresee a day he might wear his own hair in dreadlocks?

He shook his head no and laughed.

“I can’t do anything with my hair,” he said. “White guy hair.”

Puig paradox

Yasiel Puig hits left-handers. Even after the Dodgers put him in their doghouse last season — trying to trade him, shipping him to the minor leagues, trading for Josh Reddick to replace him in right field — they still started Puig against left-handers in the playoffs.

Puig batted eighth Friday, against Atlanta Braves left-hander Jaime Garcia. Puig has not batted higher than seventh against a left-hander since May 19.

He entered play Friday with a .501 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) against left-handers, the lowest of any National League hitter with at least 75 plate appearances. He is batting .171, with one home run in 76 at-bats.


Puig remained in the lineup, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, because “the defense is still elite for me.” Roberts traced the offensive struggles to a “point of contact issue,” saying Puig is waiting too long before he swings.

“I think the ball coming into him from a lefty is just beating him,” Roberts said.

Puig is batting .274 with an .876 OPS off right-handers, so Roberts said he did not believe Puig had lost bat speed. That would make his problem a mechanical one, and Roberts saw no reason why a player who usually hits right-handers and left-handers similarly well would not be able to recover his ability to hit left-handers.

“It’s kind of a funky season,” Roberts said. “To bet that continues, that he doesn’t hit lefties, I’d be shocked.”

Short hops

Roberts said he expected first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (herniated disk) to return sometime next month and outfielder Andre Ethier (herniated disk) to return when rosters expand in September. Ethier has not played this season. … Pitcher Scott Kazmir, who has not pitched this season as he deals with a decline in velocity and an injured hip that restrains his delivery, has returned to his Texas home to consult with a specialist in body mechanics. Kazmir has made three minor league rehabilitation starts, the last on July 8. He is in the second year of a three-year, $48-million contract.


Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin